Friday, August 31, 2012

No Excuses

After a brief conversation with Wall Street Journal columnist Lettie Teague, I realized it was time to pull the cork on a blog post for August.  Ms. Teague softly scolded me for my lack of new content in the month of August. And then did so publicly in today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal (Wines Words Worth Toasting). My high school football coach Richie Magdon used to say that excuses are like armpits, everybody has them and they all stink. His imagery was much cruder, but you get the idea.  Coach, my excuse for August doesn't stink. Actually, sometimes he does. But most of the time he is sweet smelling and handsome. His name is Lucas Joseph Troilo. My wife and I welcomed our third child into this crazy world on August 15th. Much of August has been spent preparing for Lucas’ arrival and dealing with the aftermath. There has been little time for writing, much less reflection. A house of five is much different than a house of four. However, with the celebration of his birth and the impending celebration of mine today, is there a better time to recount my favorite wines of the year? I've never done this before, perhaps we should go top ten all time bottles.  Next year, we'll see if any bottle gets bumped.  I should be so lucky.

10. 1995 Chateau Poujeaux Moulis En Medoc
The 1995 Chateau Poujeaux is the cornerstone of my European wine experience. It provided the “Ah-ha” moment in my wine career where I could begin to clearly delineate the difference between old-world and new-world wines. I remember referring to this wine in notes I wrote for the 1997 Waterbrook Melange penning “The Melange reminds of a middle region Bordeaux like Chateau Poujeaux. It possesses a soft elegance not seen in many wines produced this side of the Atlantic”.  My dad had questioned whether I copied the words from another source. I can still see the pride in his smile when he realized I penned it myself. Our sales of Melange and Poujeaux went through the roof and I was instantly drawn to wine industry.

9. 1991 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva Blanco
Not available in the Connecticut market until very recently, the wines of Lopez de Heredia are simply a must for anyone who claims they love Spanish wines. This wine was brought to my house for a summer party in 2010 by a new friend. He clearly knows how to get noticed at a party filled with wine geeks.

8. 1998 Ghislaine Barthod Bourgogne
If the 1982 Domaine Leroy is the resurrection of my Burgundy problem (see below), Ghislaine Barthod is the root. I tasted this wine fresh off a trip to Oregon for Oregon Pinot Camp. Fully immersed into the world of Pinot Noir my palate was insufferably seeking more Pinot Noir experience. To this day I do not believe there is a better producer of Pinot Noir in the world. Her wines from the Chambolle Musigny district of Burgundy are some of the most sought after wines in the market. These aren’t fortune and glory wines. They are an ethereal experience coveted by subset of wine geeks. But they award only the patient collector. Ghislaine’s wines can be described in one word, damn sexy. Okay, two words.

7. 1997 Viader Proprietary Red
The wines produced by Delia Viader are perhaps some of the most profound, balanced and reliable wines I have experienced from California. The first vintage I purchased from the estate was the 1995. I never looked back, creating a vertical since that vintage. My only regret is lack of late evening self-control. Sadly my family has diminished its stock of ’95 and ’96 with only a few bottles of ’97 remaining.

6. 1990 Krug
Off to MetLife Stadium we go. My cousin was kind enough to share this on New Year's Day 2012 as we prepared to root the New York Giants to victory over the Dallas Cowboys and a playoff birth. Okay, I'll admit I don't remember much about the nuances of this wine but I remember it was one of the best I've had. Perhaps I can forgive my cousin for polishing off the magnum of ’97 Sequoia Grove at my rehearsal dinner.

5. 1994 Chateau Pichon Lougueville Pauillac
I feel bad for the Pichon, it was enjoyed after a 2010 New Year’s eve experience with the 1990 Latour. Forgive us, we knew not what we did. It was a memorable bottle nonetheless and certainly has plenty of room to grow. Displayed dark purple and garnet color. Deep black fruits, currant, blackberry and baked blueberry with notes of tobacco leaf and cedar. Weighty and dense on the palate with soft tannins and a lush finish.  Still plenty of time to mature.

4. 1990 Mo√ęt & Chandon Dom Perignon
I've been lucky enough to enjoy this gorgeous bottle of bubbles on numerous occasions: celebrating my family business' 20th anniversary at MetLife Stadium in the parking lot with my dad and brother and in a dusty back room office of the wine store on Christmas Eve 2011 with my staff are the most memorable. The wine is still in its infancy and holding its sparkle. I just wish more people understood mature Champagne. Many would think this wine is dead. I'm glad to have one more bottle.

3. 1995 Talbott Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay
My wife and I married in 2003. The Talbott Sleepy Hollow was poured from a 5 Liter at our rehearsal dinner. As many stole the last sips of the '97 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve I had purchased on a trip to California in 2000 specifically for the occasion, my dad, brother and I hovered over the Talbott like thieves guarding their newly stolen treasure. It was glorious. And we despise California Chardonnay.  I'll never forgive my cousin for polishing off the last of the Sequoia Grove. Opps, I think I already did.

2. 1982 Domaine Leroy Clos Vougeot
This is the oldest bottle of Burgundy to hit my palate. It is singularly responsible for the resurrection of my Burgundy problem. First enjoyed at Thanksgiving 2008, I found the case tucked in a corner of my family's cellar. My brother gasped "Where'd that come from?" I answered, "Found it tucked in the corner". It seems to have subsequently disappeared, reminding me to change the locks. 


1. 1990 Chateau Latour Pauillac
New Year's Eve 2010. It's become tradition to have two of my best friends (coincidentally one of them is my knight in shining armor) for dinner. A quiet evening with great friends, good food, great wine, lots of music and laughter celebrating the end of a long holiday season. This is clearly the best bottle of wine I have ever enjoyed. Layered with fruit, spice and earth, its texture is so seamless and finish so refined, it has no descriptor or comparison. It is so choice, if you have the means, I highly recommend it.

So today I’ll celebrate my 35th birthday (again). Those that have celebrated with me in the past know that I do so with reckless abandonment because another one is never guaranteed. I’ll be surrounded by family, friends and great wine all weekend. I can only hope that the trend continues for the next 365 days. Perhaps I can bump a few wines off this list. I guess that’s really up to me. No excuses.

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